A recession, or at least a significant downturn, is inevitable. No-one knows when or what the cause will be, but recessions are a part of the economic cycle. Will you be ready?
It comes with the deal. If you are a sovereign professional, your sovereignty requires that you make provision for whatever fate my fling at you. That can be tough to hear if you haven’t even got the hang of saving cash for your tax bill.
I guess it’s the same with the media we consume. In a bid to stay updated all the time (which is hardly what we call learning), we consume a lot of Tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook updates etc. These are quick bites that may fill your time with an illusion of learning, unless your goal is to just fill the time with something (and hide behind it).
But if you are set out to truly learn something and go deeper, then you need slow media that is cooked slowly with care, has the right ingredients and is nourishing.
But, where do you start? You’ve shrugged off the shackles and the corporate comfort blanket. You’ve broken free from the gilded cage. How do you carve a place to work from your place to live? Here are a few considerations and inspirations.
How much space do you need? Maybe, just a quiet desk will do, but will clients visit you? Do you need a separate work-space (studio, treatment room, consulting room, recording studio, etc.)? And a waiting room,too? Some rooms may have a dual business/domestic purpose, but will your partner welcome the 50″ screen in the new dining/meeting room?
Seasons and services. Separate garden rooms and garage conversions are popular, with the advantage of still maintaining a degree of separation between work-life and life-life. But, consider if they will work in all seasons: from the dead of winter to the heat of summer. Do you have adequate power (including the need for heating) and internet access?
Legals, tax and admin. How will working from home affect the following:
Does your mortgage or tenancy agreement allow working from your home?
What about property tax? If you work alone from a home-office, this may be allowable under domestic “poll tax”, but if you have a studio or treatment room etc, you might yourself liable for business rates. Check before you begin.
Insurances. How does your business affect your building and contents insurances? Do you need public liability insurance? What about a risk-assessment of your home if you will have clients visiting?
Peace and privacy. Can you work uninterrupted? Even during the school holidays? Kids, dogs and washing machines all lose their charm when they are a regular soundtrack to your conference calls. And, even the best prepared television interviews can be derailed, as Professor Robert Kelly discovered in this BBC News interview:
The home office is hardly new. Every working farmhouse is a head office. Therapists and tutors have always worked from home to some degree. All have adapted to the business needs of their owners.
Try these famous locations for inspiration:
Take a punt, or a putt-putt down the Grand Canal. Those elegant palazzos were built, business-first, by the wealthy merchants of the city-state as home and office.
On the water-level was the impressive canal-side entrance and a ground floor of storerooms and offices for transacting daily business. The next floor up (first floor for Brits, second for Americans) was the piano nobile or grand floor, lavishly decorated and used for entertaining. The floor above was the family’s private apartments.
Soane moved to 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1792 and, as his collection grew, he acquired numbers 13 and 14 , remodelling the houses and stables to accommodate an innovative, hinged Picture Gallery (that houses Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress) and more space for the collection. He negotiated an act of parliament for the house to be preserved as it was when he died.
If you’re in London it’s worth a visit – for research purposes, obviously. It is a glorious clutter, muddle and inspiration.
In the basement is the sarcophagus of Seti I, of which Wikipedia says:
By contrast, the apartments where Freud lived and worked from 1891 to 1938 are more modest. Freud moved there with his family when it was a new-build. As his practice grew, he took on the second apartment on the floor as his practice. Today, the living space is a museum and exhibition, with little furniture, but his consulting room and waiting room are furnished much as they would have been in his time. The famous couch, however, is in London.
The apartment next door, perfect for separating work and domestic life.
Winston Churchill purchased his beloved Chartwell in 1922 and lived there until shortly before his death in 1965. As Wikipedia has it:
In the 1930s, when Churchill was excluded from political office, Chartwell became the centre of his world. At his dining table, he gathered those who could assist his campaign against German re-armament and the British government’s response of appeasement; in his study, he composed speeches and wrote books; in his garden, he built walls, constructed lakes and painted.
When the Churchill’s purchased the property, they had it remodelled adding a three-storey wing with views over the Kent Weald. The property sits on a steep slope, so the entrance level, ground floor room of the extension is the middle floor and a large drawing room. Downstairs is the dining room, while upstairs, is Churchill’s large study. There is also a small library in the original house and, of course, books everywhere else.
Chartwell is a beautiful retreat that still feels like a home. It’s not enormous like stately homes of previous centuries, but it has space to live … and to work.
Dickens London Home
Forty-eight Doughty Street was Charles Dickens’ Bloomsbury home for just 2 1/2 years, but it is beautifully preserved as a Victorian Home. It’s where he wrote Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby.
If you’re a writer, you need only a quiet, well-lit study.
And, possibly space to entertain.
From the merchant palazzos of a city-state to the modest study of a great writer, these homes were all designed to provide a place to work and a place to live.
These last couple of weeks I’ve been having something of a Steely Dan wallow. I still can’t quite decide which is my favourite album, although 1974’s Pretzel Logic is high in the running, but then again…
And, in sharing these delights with my oldest, and vinyl-collecting, friend I find he had “just picked up an original US press of Katy Lied last Saturday – sensational stuff & the original sounds SOOO much better than the re-press I had.”
Baxter is one of those individuals who has forged hugely successful careers in wildly different fields. John Perry Barlow was another: cattle rancher, internet pioneer, lyricist with the Grateful Dead, cyber-libertarian and founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
A third is John Kao: entrepreneur, psychiatrist, a talented jazz pianist who played with Frank Zappa, and a theatre and film producer with the film Sex, Lies and Videotape to his credit.
Do they all qualify as sovereign professionals? I guess they do.